A Plastic Poem- Happy World Oceans Day!

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The Galway aquarium was celebrating World Ocean’s Day weekend so I wrote a poem for World Ocean’s Day, inspired by the Marlisco marine litter course:

A Plastic Poem

As the ocean glistened in the Sun’s ray
I took a walk to along the coast of Galway Bay
As I began my journey into the deep blue
I started to wonder what we should do

Give up one use plastics- now that’s a start
Reduce marine litter and debris- though it is quite hard;
But think of the fulmars, the gulls entangled
Seals and turtles- all could get strangled

In seas of garbage – bags, bottles and balloons
From estuaries, the deep sea to lagoons
Mistaken for food by whales, dolphins and birds
Ending up in stomachs and entire food webs

Bio-degradation- it takes a lot of time
Instead recycle our rubbish – yes it’s sublime

Pesticides and sewage straight to our beaches
Eutrophication– even in the far reaches
Chemicals end up in microplastics from lotions and scrubs
Instead use alternatives such as the orange rind rub

Leaks and spills end up in ocean currents
Let’s talk to our politicians about industrial pollution
Reduce marine litter in the world’s oceans
Today let’s make it a world ocean’s day resolution

Take part in the Better Bag Challenge: The World Oceans day organisers are also encouraging people to sign up for the Better Bag Challenge, where you can commit to use reusable bags instead of disposable for a whole year! Please sign up herechallenge-box!FB-pink

Happy world oceans day!

Marine Science Book Club

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                                                        Marine Science Book Club: For a while I have had this idea to start doing a marine science book club as part of this blog. Inspiration came from our local book shop in Galway and I am a member of the Travel Writing book club. Over the break, I was visiting my family and ended up visiting Waterstones quite a lot! So I had a big pile of popular science books waiting to be read- some of which I have read, some I haven’t. However after attending Charlie Byrne’s travel writing book club I thought, every two months we can look at a popular marine science book and read it and then report back thoughts on this blog.

Here are some books I was considering. I thought if there is sufficient interest we could start with: “What has nature ever done for us?” by UK Sustainability adviser and former director of of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper. Recently he gave a series of lectures in Ireland and his book examines the value of nature- both ecologically and economically. The book discusses everything from the decline of vultures in India to coccolithophores and ocean acidification. Tony Juniper recently gave a talk at the Ryan Institute. Suggestions are Welcome!

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A                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Recommendations of some other ideas are dotted around on this blog including:

Maerl Documentary – A short trailer

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Finally I can bring to you the trailer for the maerl documentary! This trailer gives you a small taster of the final hour long documentary film. As a PhD student studying maerl I encountered many researchers with diverse and in-depth knowledge about maerl beds in Ireland and worldwide and felt quite compelled to make this documentary. It includes interviews about marine botany, zoology, ecology, geology and marine geophysics, as well as the threat of anthropogenic impacts on maerl, climate change and possible solutions. Having been busy editing to sew together nine interviews, breathtaking scenery and diving footage. I am now consulting with my team and friends for suggestions of how to improve the near-final cut. Please tell your friends about this film and we hope it will help the next generation of scientists, educators and policy makers to conserve, protect and manage this vulnerable benthic habitat.

Seabed Habitats Blog Carnival- Happy World Oceans Day!

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Happy World Ocean’s Day to you! To celebrate this year, we are hosting our Seabed Habitats Blog Carnival especially for World Ocean’s Day!!! Today on the 8th of June, people around our planet Earth celebrate and honour the ocean, which links us all. Hence, here is the anthology of posts nominated or selected for you to enjoy today from a diverse range of bloggers!

Lophelia pertusa and Eunice norvegica-_Solvin_Zankl_LRLove between coral and worm NIOZ News. A couple of years ago, I went on a cold water corals cruise to help a fellow PhD candidate Anna Rengstorf with her data acquisition aboard the Celtic Explorer in the North East Atlantic as part of the CoralFISH project. During this trip, during a coral sampling exercise, we came across, to my amazement, Eunice norvegica, the worm that lives inside the coral, and saw first-hand the love between the coral and the worm! “The relationship between a cold-water coral and a worm is beneficial for both partners involved,” Christina Mueller, NIOZ.

Common sun star, MARLINMarine Invertebrates MarineBio.org. This wonderful blog introduces us to all the major phyla of invertebrates in simple language. The most common marine invertebrates are sponges, cnidarians (coral, anemones, hydozoans and jelly fish), marine worms, lophophorates (bryozoans), mollusks (oysters, chitons, clams, snails, slugs, octopus, and squid), arthropods (spiders, lobsters, crabs, barnacles, and shrimp), echinoderms (with five-point radial symmetry) and the hemichordates (our closest invertebrate relatives!).

manta raysManta Madness- a world famous snorkel experience in Kona, Hawaii, Seaing Blue, Natalie Reichenbacher. Manta rays are large eagle rays, which evolved from bottom-dwelling stingrays, eventually developing more wing-like pectoral fins. Night snorkelling in the moon shimmered Pacific Ocean, Natalie tells us of their  flamboyant display with mantas cartwheeling as they feed on the plankton in the water column. They can be seen moving through the water by the wing-like movements of their pectoral fins. Once in a lifetime underwater experience!

Maerl Beds in the Fal Estuary with Harbour crab - Liocarcinus depuratorConservation of maerl habitats Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Maerl beds in the St. Mawes Bank, Fal and Helford Special Area of Conservation (SAC) include the largest maerl beds in south-west UK. Slow-growing over time, maerl beds are amongst the oldest marine plants in Europe, with beds being up to 8000 years old and are a protected seabed habitat in danger of disappearance. Following proposals of dredging, a proposal to make a Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) was made. Here, sensitive issues are discussed openly and transparently with marine stakeholders to clarify their stance on maerl conservation and strategies to protect maerl for future generations.

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Epifauna and their importance in regeneration of the seabed Arran Coast. The Community of Arran Seabed Trust, Scotland are a community organisation working for the protection and restoration of the marine environment around Arran and the Clyde. This guest post discusses life at the benthos and the recoverability following an anthropogenic disturbance, such as dredging and bottom trawling -fishing activity. Epifauna play a role in reducing the three-dimensional habitat destruction due to dredging.

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What lies beneath? NUI Galway Marine Science Blog. This post by marine geomatician and geomorphologist Dr. Garret Duffy, is about the hidden landscape beneath us- the seabed. It explores some of the physical oceanographic processes responsible for shaping the spatial variability of the seabed and its sediment dynamics. It finishes with a specific example of sediment ‘waves’ in Galway Bay, West of Ireland.

RVKearyHydrographic surveying in Dingle Bay INFOMAR Blog, Geological Survey of Ireland (GSI). INFOMAR is a joint venture between the Geological Survey of Ireland and the Marine Institute and is the successor to the Irish National Seabed Survey. As one of the 26 INFOMAR priority bays to survey, Dingle Bay was recently surveyed using the multibeam echosounder, aboard the R.V. Keary, M.V. Cosantóir Bradán and the R.V. Geo. The INFOMAR programme is a leading example of a national seabed mapping initiative and application of technologies to answering scientific questions about the seabed.

Multibeam BackscatterMultibeam Backscatter NOAA Ocean Science. Acoustic Mapping Specialist Will Sautter describes multibeam backscatter as painting a portrait of the seafloor of Grand Reserve of Puerto Rico, to be used for seabed classification. He uses an excellent analogy of the tennis court, with different surfaces of grass, clay, concrete etc bouncing/returning the tennis ball with a different intensity, just like the acoustic signal at the seabed.

sunriseSmart Sea School in the West of Ireland University College Cork and partners.  Marine micropalaeontologist, Margaret Browne writes about her cruise with Prof. Andy Wheeler’s team, to the Moria Mounds, West Porcupine Bank and inner shelf off the West of Ireland as part of the West of Ireland Coring Programme (WICPro). The cruise studied the glacial depositional history and ice sheet limits, using the gravity corer and box corer.

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Pheronema sea belt and the muddy deep sea Plymouth University. This blog post introduces the Pheronema carpenteri, the bird’s nest sponge, forms dense aggregations in the deep sea, forming a belt at the Procupine Seabight, North Atlantic. The post also describes neighbouring deep-sea habitats and discusses the importance of deep-sea stewardship. It was lovely to find out about this little documented and rare seabed habitat virtually unknown! Image Crown copyright © 2006, Marlin.

 

SmartBayOcean observatories ESONET members. An ocean observatory is a a sub-sea networked infrastructure of  sensors to measure the physical, chemical, geological and biological variables in the ocean and seabed. The European Sea Floor Observatory Network (ESONET), with the Procupine/Celtic leg, enhances the long term monitoring capability in geophysics, geotechnics, chemistry, biochemistry, oceanography, biology and fisheries in Europe. Coral-covered carbonate mounds of the Belgica Mound Province, north-eastern Porcupine Seabight are main targets for proposed long-term seafloor observatories.

Mining at Deep Sea Vents – what are the impacts on marine life? Deep Sea Mining Out of Our Depth. Dr. Jon Copley, University of Southampton asks the question – what are the impacts of deep sea mining on the organisms at deep-sea vents? Increasing levels of experimental deep sea mining are being proposed to take place at vent fields. Mineral extraction at deep sea hydrothermal vents has been proposed by mining companies after “seafloor massive sulfide” (SMS) deposits. There has been a surprisingly mixed response from the deep-sea scientific community regarding conservation/exploitation, however it is agreed that as a minimum, effective regulation is essential for deep sea vent mining, if not a complete ban.

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Setting Priorities to Conserve Marine Biodiversity Global Partnership for Oceans. This blog post by Conservation International discusses which places globally should be a priority for conservation in the marine environment and how to identify which are the most critical ocean habitats. High diversity – high impact places should be conserved first with analysis of the broad-scale patterns of biodiversity and human impacts. Wonderful initiative towards a global solution to maximise ocean health and to apply in practice.

Success of MPAs depends on these 5 things Conservation International. This blog discusses the reasons behind the success of  Cocos Island, Marine Protected Area (MPA) a revered diving site and ecotourism destination. It explores five features of this MPA, discussed in a new accompanying Nature paper and sustainable management strategies; those being how much fishing is allowed, enforcement levels, how long protection has been in place, area and degree of isolation. (© Conservation International/photo by Sebastian Troëng)

 

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How Bad is Marine Litter? Marine Science Blogs, Cefas. This blog post from Cefas discusses the source of marine litter and quantifying the impacts of plastics and microplastics on the oceans. It also highlights the importance of scientific research blogging and science communication initiatives to creatively and reliably educate the wider public, especially from scientists of the UK government.

 

mariner_albatrossPoem for Vayda Seamount Tropics- Illuminating the Deep. To conclude, a beautiful poem about the Vayda Seamount, written by Sarah Robinson, as part of the Tropics (Tracing ocean processes using corals and sediments) cruise. An inspirational poem from the deep!!

 

 

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Acknowledgements

Acknowledgements, sincere thanks and most thumbnail image credits go out to the creators of the posts for taking part in this blog carnival. A special thank you especially to Natalie for sharing her phenomenal experience underwater with the Manta rays! Image credit for Conservation of Maerl Habitats is to Ross Bullimore. Posts are in logical order by subject matter. It has been a joy to create this post- would love to hear your views on this Blog Carnival here!! Also, thank you to World Ocean Day organiser for putting up the details of the event on their website. Happy World Oceans Day to you!

Settling Velocity and Grain Shape of Maerl

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ResearchBlogging.orgOur recent study on maerl sediment dynamics has found that the settling velocity of maerl is primarily governed by the grain shape properties of maerl. A grain shape parameter known as the convexity has been linked to the settling velocity via the Ferguson and Church model (Ferguson and Church, 2004). Due to the grain shape of maerl and roughness, it experiences a greater drag than the natural quartz grain. Detailed measurements of maërl grain shape using microscopic image analysis confirm this link.

Maërl tends to form beach deposits with a low percentage of sand and it is hypothesised that the lower settling velocity of maerl results in this preferential transport of biogenic maerl sediments compared to quartz sands and gravels. Maërl samples found in open marine, intertidal, and beach environments show a different linear relationship between roughness and grain size, due to different degrees of abrasion. A combination of different wave climates and transport histories result in this increased spatial variability of grain textures.

The paper and study then goes on to discuss to what extent a general equation for maërl settling velocity is possible or not and to whether the sediment mobility of maerl can be predicted using the settling velocity as an input parameter.

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The apparatus used to determine the settling velocity of maerl

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Microscopic image analysis of the maerl grain

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Maerl grains were found to be more convex, with a high grain roughness

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Carraroe Maerl Beach in County Galway shows a higher maerl to sand ratio, with a high percentage maerl- an occurance explained here to be due to the lower settling velocity of maerl.

Ferguson, R., & Church, M. (2004). A Simple Universal Equation for Grain Settling Velocity Journal of Sedimentary Research, 74 (6), 933-937 DOI: 10.1306/051204740933

Joshi, S., Duffy, G., & Brown, C. (2014). Settling Velocity and Grain Shape of Maerl Biogenic Gravel Journal of Sedimentary Research, 84 (8), 718-727 DOI: 10.2110/jsr.2014.51

Marmo the Octopus cuts the World Oceans Day Earth Cake!!

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Marmo the Octopus at Galway Atlantaquaria on World Oceans Day with the 3D Earth Cake, inspired by the Great GeoBake Off.

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Sarah Knight (Ryan Institute Outreach Officer), Marmo (our beloved octopus) and Siddhi Joshi (Resident cake baker) cut the Earth cake on World Oceans Day.

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The 3D Earth Cake has layers for the core, the mantle and the crust, with a very tasty educational goal!

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